Time kills all deals, right? Or so we’ve been told. That seems to be a theme I see pop up from time to time. Almost as if we are “allowed” to blame “time” for our failures.

My concern with this excuse is quite simple. I do not believe it. Time is not the culprit in most situations – mismanagement is. Mismanagement of expectations, of process and steps along the way kills deals. Time is merely the scapegoat.

It seems over the years too many “enthused” recruiters have always appeared to be in a hurry to make things happen. So excited in fact they create a false sense of urgency for their candidates without having a thorough grasp on the time line in front of them. It’s almost as if by “telling” the client “we better move quick” they somehow change their corporate policies to accommodate your enthusiasm. It doesn’t work that way kids.

I tell each of my clients something that helps me get a handle on the process. I let them know in no uncertain terms I am in no rush. If they have a 4 week process – OK. Now I know. I’ll set the expectations with my candidates. I’m also fully prepared for a quick process. As a matter of fact – it doesn’t matter to me what kind of process (short of absurdity) is involved. I just need to know WHAT IT IS. As long as I know IN ADVANCE then I can do my job.

The key to success with any hiring process is to know WHAT it is: How many interviews, how many people, how long does it take to schedule an interview, when will I get feedback from each step, who has to agree, how that decision is made and what timeframes are involved.

It is only AFTER this discussion that I have a right, an obligation, to keep them on track. Only then can I say “Ms. Client, when we discussed this last week you told me you would be able to give me feedback within a day of the interview” or “My notes indicate there would only be 2 interviews……” whatever the case may be. Whenever things are not as previously discussed you then have the professional authority to say “Something has changed. Can you tell me what it is?”

If you don’t discuss it before it starts – how will you know when it’s not going the way it should?

Time kills all deals? Nope. Mismanagement does……..


11 thoughts on “Time Kills All Deals? Nope…..

  1. Jerry – I respect your point of view. I think we are saying the same thing but calling it different factors to me its time to you its mismanagement but in the end you can not control outside factors that can hinder the work that we do in setting expectations with clients and candidates. It is my experience the longer a search goes on say over 30 days or so even if you have set the expectation that the search will be 30 days plus etc… time could hinder the process. Hope you have a great day! And would love to catch up!!

  2. Hey, Jerry, can’t you give me a link back to the show. Would that be such a bad thing?

    Now about your claim. You are saying that

    1. You adapt to the schedule of the client however

    2. You ask them to spell out the hiring process very clearly and then

    3. If anomalies arise, you remind them of their commitment to abide by the process (schedule of events) they laid out at the start

    Inotherwords, you contract for the process and refer back to it when necessary.

    4. How long a search lasts is of no significance as the client remains on track

    However, we both know that you cannot leave a good candidate dangling for too long. If she is looking she might accept another offer before your client decides to act.

  3. Thanks Chernee. Perhaps I’m a bit hung up on terminology. Maybe I’m just one of those over-the-top “words mean something” kind of guys. We both agree for the most part.

    I guess I was going for the underlying factors of why a deal ends up falling apart. 9 times out of 10 I’d venture to say that time is not the most instrumental factor.

    Animal – as long as you have an expectation of WHAT is going to occur you are then far more aware of when things CHANGE. Keeping abreast of the changes puts you in a stronger position to know what is going on at the time. Unless you ask on the front end you are just sounding like the recruiter who needs to hurry up and make a fee. Those are the ones who gives us a bad rap……

  4. Dear Jeremiah, thank you for your reply.

    Time, in the sense of delay, leaves us vulnerable to the loss of a candidate. It’s hard to argue with that.

    You say that a well established schedule will alert you to problems. This is surely of great value but why is the failure to establish a clear schedule it more of a deal-killer than a long drawn out process?

  5. Animal – my sense is you are missing the underlying theme here. Our work centers around our ability to manage expectations – to prepare our clients and candidates for the next step. This is (or should be) what we do.

    When we do not know the time line then we are left to guess. Guessing often leads to the wrong conclusion. We then start giving the wrong information to our clients/candidates who then begin making decisions – or emotionally reacting as the case may be – to what may be the wrong information.

    If you know a client has a longer process – you can manage better if your candidate understands that upfront. If they begin to wonder “what’s taking so long” without having a clear expectation or understanding – it’s human nature to begin a self-talk of “well – I didn’t really want that job anyway” or similar. It’s how we as humans cope with rejection.

  6. Jeremiah,

    Is that what you are saying?

    A long hiring process is not as big a problem as an unpredictable process.

    The maxim: “Time kills all deals” includes the idea of unexpected delays.

    You are focusing on this unexpected element as the real deal-breaker.

    A candidate is likely to stay the course if she knows up front what it is and is not subjected to numerous disappointments along the way.

    Unexpected delays, on the other hand, provoke negative interpretations of the situation and that creates a loss of interest.

    So true, Jer, so true.

    But what about the bird in hand? If the candidate is involved in a long hiring process, the outcome of which is unknown, she might be inclined to respond to a concrete offer that comes in while she is waiting.

    The question then is: which is most likely to occur? This will tell us which is the greater problem.

    1. A fall-off due to a long process or
    2. A fall-off due to a process that contains unexpected delays

  7. Jerry,

    I agree with you from the angle you are approaching this topic. I also agree with the angle that Animal is coming from “cannot leave a good candidate dangling too long.”

    If the expectations are set up front with both the hiring manager and the candidate about the length of process, etc a good candidate that has other options will go with those that are moving more quickly. It’s the classic “bird in hand” scenario. We all have had candidates inform us they will tell the other company to hold off as long as possible or they turned down other offers because the one we have is the best match but no matter how you frame it – if the manager tells you it is going to be a 45 day process and you manage to that and lose quality candidates along the way – well time killed the deal.

    Great point of view presented and coaching tip on how to manage the client and candidate more effectively.



  8. Thanks Mark. While some might consider my argument to be merely semantics – I enjoy thinking about these things a little deeper. Maybe it’s the overall “time kills all deals” blanket statement. It doesn’t. I just placed a candidate through a 60 day process. That sure would have “time” as an ingredient. It didn’t get killed….:)

    I hope I’m not sending the wrong message here. I’m quite aware of the problems that creep in over time. The longer the process – the more room there is to get off track. Other offers. Counter offers. New information comes in all the time. The key to warding off these issues is a constant dialogue with all parties involved.

  9. Gerald, I didn’t realize until till now but I think Mark is right. You’ve got a word problem.

    “Time kills all deals” is a maxim. It’s a saying not a scientific thesis. It doesn’t mean that every deal that requires a long process is doomed.

    It means the more time it takes to close a deal the more likely it is to fail.

    You tried to show that problems arise from unexpected extensions of time, not from the amount of time itself.

    Now, you’ve acknowledged quite simply that “The longer the process – the more room there is to get off track.”

    So here’s what I see you saying:

    1. Time causes problems but it doesn’t kill every deal and

    2. Time causes problems especially when there are unexpected delays

    So, it looks like the word “all” is your big problem.

    You would rather say “Time can cause problems in deals”. But, you see, that doesn’t have a lot of punch. So it doesn’t deliver the message you want sent. My advise: don’t go into advertising

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